Networking is a skill offered in most business schools; however, most networking sessions are set up for graduates' potential future careers. Today, we explore how to network to expand your contacts, which organically results in referrals that can potentially lead to contracts or sales. Networking is a critically important skill that future leaders will need to master. It is an effective learning tool that provides a way to gather information, obtain advice and support, share information, collaborate, partner, and generate ideas to create a win-win approach.
Networking is a Lifestyle
Networking is a way of living and working understanding that every contact is an opportunity to engage, explore the unknown, and connect with diverse minds. To frame your understanding of a network, please note the below list:
1-networking commences with every contact. Whether it's your pharmacist, doctor, uber driver, waiter, bank teller, etc. Anyone is a potential contact that can expand your network
2-when expanding your network, consider that each contact knows at least ten other people; it's math
3-represent your authentic self. Remove your mask, uncover it to discover the authentic you, and let your light shine. Your network wants to know and get to know you, not your social media persona
4-understand that networking, just like holistic living, is a lifestyle, not a one-hit-wonder
5-approach this unique new life with confidence; don't be timid
6-if you are timid, practice your intro speech or 30-second elevator pitch. This will boost your confidence.
7-stay within the know of your industry, sometimes 1st impressions are lasting impressions
8-stay prepared, and ensure all of your credentials and information are current
How to Network:
1-Begin with a common connection point – a common thread. This common thread will increase the likelihood of a first meeting and provide an icebreaker at the beginning of a meeting.
2-When requesting a meeting, ask for advice – Networkers should frame the purpose of their meeting request as seeking advice on a topic that the contact person has experience with. Networkers should follow this practice even if networking solely for job leads.
3-Make the meeting request manageable and convenient – Ask for a 15-minute virtual meeting. A short meeting is not a significant inconvenience for most people.
4-Prepare for the meeting – Networkers should gather information about the contacted person.
5-Take notes – Take detailed notes during the meeting, including a specific reference to a personal anecdote about the contacted person. This will enable a networker to include a mention of the personal anecdote in thank-you notes.
6-Take advantage of networking opportunities – Even if a future leader has a job lined up, networking is essential.
Leveling up for 2024 may mean expanding your network. To jumpstart your networking activities, go ahead and sponsor your very own local meet and greet. Networking is simply another investment opportunity that will pay off dividends if you are consistent and persistent.